Fire tax goes up across Florence County

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - Taxes are going up across Florence County, and the increase is linked to fire service.

You'll see that increase next month when you get your property tax notice.

The county council approved the increase in a six to three vote.

"The millage for fire service in Florence County the unincorporated areas of Florence County are now officially 27.5 mills on the tax notices with no bond millage for this year," Florence County Chairman James Schofield said.

That's an additional $28 per 100,000 house.

"We just had a public hearing this morning about the seven mill increase and there was no one there," Schofield said.

Although no one came out in protest of the increase, three council members did not support it.

Mitchell Kirby was one of those them.

"We increased the mills from what we set it first from 16 to 20 to 27, and it's kind of got out of hand. We just need to stop and start over and come up with a better solution," Florence County Councilman Mitchell Kirby said.

Kirby also added the current lawsuit the county has against the West Florence Fire District, stating its creation is illegal, is a waste of taxpayer dollars.

Waymond Mumford voted for the increase.

"This has been a strain on all of us. I'm speaking for myself and I know the folks in West Florence feel the same way. A lawsuit doesn't help anybody but the lawyers," Florence County Councilman Waymond Mumford said.

In addition to that tax increase and the pending lawsuit, council members also discussed annexation and how it will impact the West Florence Fire District.

"Pretty much the only way people are annexing in South Carolina is individual parcels that want to that are continuous to the city," Schofield said.

The city said 100 homes out of the Windsor Forest area are slated to join the city by the end of this year.

Some council members say annexations won't only impact millage in West Florence; it could create some ripples in other county business.

"The annexation will deplete some funding in the solid waste also, yes no question," Schofield said.

County council said if the courts find the West Florence Fire District is illegal fire millage will go back down to 20.5.

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